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Reflecting on Autism Acceptance Month

  • Bryony Seir
  • 31 May 2024

Looking back at autism acceptance month, I thought I would share a personal story of mine. I was diagnosed with autism when I was twenty-five. At first, it was a shock to the system because nobody had ever picked up on this when I was at school or throughout my childhood. I always thought that my ‘meltdowns’ as a teenager/adult were mental health episodes, so to find out that all this time, I was neurodiverse, well, it had been pretty hard to digest at first. However, the woman who diagnosed me said that autism is more difficult to diagnose in girls because we tend to camouflage a lot, and I was extremely introverted in high school.

 I went under the radar.

 I can honestly admit that accepting this diagnosis/label was hard, mainly due to the fact that I was not seen or heard for the majority of my life and I never received the right support. Over the past two years, I’ve started to understand myself better, and it’s set me on a journey of self-discovery. My diagnosis has helped me to make sense of the world and how my existence in it matters. If I hadn’t taken that first step by undergoing a diagnosis, I would still be walking around with a large question mark hanging over my head–constantly wondering why I feel so different from other people—why eye contact is borderline painful at times—why I’ve struggled in workplaces, having to leave jobs from being too overwhelmed and unable to cope within the environments—why I become socially drained quickly, and why processing information takes me a little longer to grasp compared to the average person. I’ve come to the realisation that autism doesn’t define me, it’s just part of me—it’s what makes me who I am, and I encourage anyone who is also autistic to embrace your uniqueness as there is only one of you that exists in the entire universe.

How cool is that?

I also encourage you all to get that diagnosis if you think that you meet the criteria for autism. It’s never too late to get the answers you need, and it’ll be a huge relief, trust me. Autism awareness is something that people need to educate themselves on, especially considering autism can’t be defined by one thing. Everybody on the spectrum is different, hence why there is a spectrum.

I thought I would briefly share a little poem I wrote about autism acceptance.

 

Then came my diagnosis, a day I’d been waiting to arrive.

I was ready to get the answers I’d spent years searching to find.

At twenty-five years old, the woman assessed me and told me I was autistic.

‘Wow, surely not, I would’ve known of its existence.

 ‘No, the woman said, her smile sympathetic. ‘Autism can be difficult to diagnose, particularly in girls. That might explain why you went under the radar and spent a life unheard.’

I couldn’t believe it.

I had autism, and I didn’t even know.

It explained why I had frequent meltdowns and why I was constantly feeling misunderstood.

 It explained why I became overwhelmed in workplaces and how social interactions left me drained and full of missed social cues.

Now I had to process a label that sounded so foreign to my ears.

I’m proud to be autistic, it’s part of who I am in this crazy, slightly dysfunctional world, and now everything kind of makes sense, if I’m honest with myself.

 I’m still trying to understand what my autism means and how I’m programmed.

 I camouflage a lot, trying to fit into what’s socially ‘normal.’

All I want to do is tell my story and spread a bit of awareness through this poem.

 

I’ve included a list of helpful links for available support that you might find useful. I have worked closely with Scope, and I was paired with a lovely woman who gave me the confidence to apply for some job roles. I didn’t get a job out of the experience as I wasn’t ready to jump back into the workplace, but even just applying for something is a big step, so I’d highly recommend Scope. I feel like after receiving a diagnosis, it’s hard to know where to turn for support. I actually started working with a disability employment advisor and she’s been amazing. Never be afraid to reach out for help, especially if you’ve had bad experiences with people in the past. Don’t let the wrong support stop you from receiving the right support. Don’t stop fighting—there is a silver lining and it begins with you taking that first step.

 

Thank you for reading, and I’ll tune in with you again for the next blog soon.

 

Have a lovely week,

Bryony

 

Autism Wales: Provides information for autistic people, parents/carers and professionals, plus downloadable resources.

www.AutismWales.org

 

National Autistic Society:

www.autism.org.uk/autism-services-directory/n/nas-cymru

 

Access To Work: This service can help with getting or maintaining a job role if you have a physical or mental health condition or disability.

www.gove.uk/access-to-work

 

Carers Wales:

info@carersWales.org

 

Disability sport Wales: Opportunities to participate in local sporting activities.

www.disabilitysportwales.com

 

Scope: helpline@scope.org.uk

 

Do2Learn: www.do2learn.com

 

The Asperger’s Syndrome Foundation: Promotes awareness

www.aspergerfoundation.org.uk

 

Carers Trust Wales: www.ctsew.org.uk

 

GIG Buddies: Enables people with learning disabilities and autism to have people in their lives who are not paid to be there.

 gigbuddies.org.uk